Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The resettlement and reintegration of ECOWAS citizens displaced by conflicts is a priority critical to the region’s people-centred integration and development objective, ECOWAS Commission Vice President.Toga McIntosh said.
According to an ECOWAS Commission statement, the VP - who visited the Tienni ECOWAS Estate, in Liberia’s Grand Cape Mount County, which is accommodating war-displaced Sierra Leoneans now seeking Liberian citizenship, on Saturday - commended the host community for providing the land for the Estate and for their hospitality towards fellow Community citizens.
The Estate is one of the four put up in Liberia under ongoing partnership between ECOWAS through the ECOWAS Peace Fund, the African Development Bank, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Liberia Refugee, Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC).
The three Estates visited by the Vice-President, including the two in Sass Town (Bomi County) and Senjii Town (Grand Cape Mount County), with hundreds of housing units, are expected to accommodate more than 2,000 beneficiaries.
Located some two to three-hour’s drive from Monrovia, the estates have been set up for ex-Sierra Leonean refugees who opted out of the Voluntary Repatriation Programme, following the end of civil war in their country in 2002.
Apart from housing, the programme encompasses other facilities, including market, community halls, water, health and sanitation and education services, as well as income-generating opportunities.
After listening to the leaders of the three Estates he visited in Liberia, Vice President McIntosh urged the residents to integrate themselves into the host community and make the estates their new abode.
“This is not a refugee centre. It is no longer an issue of the people and us but us, you are now members of this community,” he said, promising that ECOWAS and its partners would address the challenges raised by the residents towards improving their living conditions.
While welcoming the Vice President and his team, District Commissioner Karson Kaidii and District No. 2 Representative Mambu M. Sonii (Grand Cape County) both pledged the host community’s total support and commitment to facilitating the integration of the new population.
The Chairman of the ECOWAS Estate, Mr. Victor Brewoh, expressed the gratitude of the residents to the host community, ECOWAS and its partners.
The Vice President’s delegation on the visit included the ECOWAS Peace Fund Manager, Mr. Dieudonne Nikiema, the UNHCR Programme Officer, Mrs. Nune Houhamisya, and ECOWAS Commission and LRRRC officials.
The African Development Bank has so far provided financial support of about US$6 million to the ECOWAS reintegration programme catering to the needs of war-displaced community citizens in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.
-0- PANA SEG 14May2012